Monday, December 7, 2009

Where have all GOOD the Christmas Catalogs Gone?

JCPenny1966_Page0001 When I was a kid, back in the dark ages, my brothers and I would look forward each fall to snagging the Sears and Penney's Christmas catalogs when they came in the mail. We'd study the toy section and make L-O-N-G lists, noting the name of the item, the page number and the price. (Somehow we managed to NOT include the total at the bottom of the page, probably because we didn't have a calculator.) I don't remember if we ever got anything that was on the lists, but we did always have about a million presents under the tree, and I don't remember ever being disappointed.

For for more than a month now, I've been receiving two Penney "Christmas" catalogs a week. They're filled with all kinds of wonderful things like tableware, linens, small appliances, and Cindy Crawford, in front of "her" holiday table with glassware and a bottle of wine. Doesn't everybody serve Christmas dinner in a little black sheath and dripping with diamonds? (Um...I don't. I usually have on a Christmas sweatshirt, sweatpants, and if I remember, my Christmas socks, which are invisible because my feet are stuffed inside my Wicked-Good slippers.)

Vacuform The other catalog was a bit bigger, but nothing like the old days, when the Christmas catalog would be up to 500 pages long. (This one was 196.) Of course, like the days of old, this catalog is stuffed with clothes. (BORING!) As far as we were concerned, getting clothes was the ultimate BAD Christmas present, but someone (usually our godparents) gave us pajamas or a scarf/mitten/hat set. You just knew when you got a box that certain size, that there wasn't going to be a record or tape player, or a board game (MONOPOLY!!!), or a Mattel Vac-U-Form in it. (Yes, one year we got a Vac-U-Form and it was fantastic! I think we used up all the provided plastic sheets on Christmas Day.)

The new-improved 2009 Penney Christmas catalog does have toys, but they're scattered throughout the last fifth of the catalog, mixed in with the PJs and the kid bed linens. In total, there's about ten pages.


Maybe it's just as well I grew up. That would just be too hard to take.

Catalog1 Of course, I really don't approve of the glut of catalogs that show up in my mailbox this time of year. (The US Postal Service, which is currently going down the tubes, does, however celebrate.) I wouldn't mind so much if the catalogs were from companies I do business on a regular basis--like JCPenny--but mostly they're from places I would never do business with. Say, Harry and David. Mind you, I've received gifts that were purchased from Harry and David -- just last year, as a matter of fact (a lovely box of chocolates), but there are too many diabetics on my Christmas list to purchase anything from that company. And way too many trees are sacrificed for catalogs that will end up, unread, in the recycling bin.

For the past couple of years, I've done most of my Christmas shopping on the Internet. Much as I love to see the lights, to hear the music, and gaze through the seasonally decorated shop windows, I can't bear to tackle the traffic, the crowds, and the germs that are the Christmas season.

Too bad we can't time travel back to our childhoods, when everything seemed so much better, fun, and happy. When lying on your stomach on the living room, gazing at those Christmas catalogs and dreaming of the BIG day was a thrill with no compare.

What do you remember about the old Christmas catalogs?